Napoli reach last 16
Goals from Gokhan Inler and Marek Hamsik propelled Napoli to a 2-0 victory over Villarreal and helped them reach the Champions League last 16.
Last Updated: 07/12/11 10:32pm
Second-half goals from Gokhan Inler and Marek Hamsik propelled Napoli to a 2-0 victory over Villarreal in Spain and saw them through to the UEFA Champions League last 16.
Inler put the Italian club ahead in their final Group A game at El Madrigal in the 65th minute when he unleashed a brilliant shot from outside the Yellow Submarine's penalty box after being released by Marek Hamsik.
And 11 minutes later Hamsik himself found the target with a simple tap-in from close range following a corner that helped the Partenopei finish runners-up in the group behind Bayern Munich and ahead of Manchester City.
Villarreal had lost all five games in the group before the game, going down 2-0 in the reverse fixture in Italy, and were on the backfoot early on.
Juan Zuniga stung the hands of home goalkeeper Diego Lopez with a right-footed effort from 12 yards.
Despite having nothing more than pride to play for, the Spanish team were determined to make things as difficult as possible for Napoli, and Marco Ruben's effort following a Hernan Perez pass deflected off the post.
The Italian side's potent strike pairing of Ezequiel Lavezzi and Edinson Cavani were receiving little service, with their side's need for a goal getting urgent as City went ahead against already qualified Bayern.
Ruben brought a parry out of visiting keeper Morgan de Sanctis with a long-range effort at the start of the second half before Inler eased Napoli nerves.
Minutes after sending a 30-yard shot wide of the post, the Swiss midfielder received the ball from Hamsik 20 yards out and drilled a left-footed shot into the bottom-right corner in the 65th minute.
Diego Lopez then produced a fine double save, first pushing out a Hamsik corner and then turning away a Lavezzi follow-up, as Napoli looked for the cushion of a second goal and it arrived 13 minutes from time.
Hamsik poked the ball home from close range after Lavezzi's ball in had created a goalmouth scramble.
With the points and their place in the next round safe, the visitors could afford to ease off in the closing stages and De Sanctis was called on to parry away a Gonzalo Rodriguez effort from the edge of the area to preserve Napoli's clean sheet.
|0||1st Half Goals||0|
|2||Shots on Target||5|
|4||Shots off Target||4|
|0||1st Half Poss.||0|
|0||2nd Half Poss.||0|